pushing 60 reads a year; i'll try not to cheat

My nominations to the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs 2014 #EMERGINGBLOGS2014

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Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs 2014


The cobwebs are thick on my blog, but I dare disturb the peace as I wish to nominate 10 blogs I believe have amazing content. I really wish these blogs get recognition. I’m so tired of popular blogs and run-of-the-mill sites always winning. Time for some quiet gems to shine now, don’t you think?  Of course, in my list is at a book blog. :)

The Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs 2014 is a global writing project. Blogs that may be nominated should not be older that August 2013.

1Cagayan de Oro’s Breathing Space –  This blogs aims to make a positive influence on the community through stories and experiences about sustainable development and design,  inspiring readers to live a better life by having a more responsible and greener lifestyle.

2. Not Your Ordinary Mum – We love the perspective of this mom, and her recipes.

3. Dok Tour - It is indeed rare to see someone from the medical profession blog and have so much doing it.

4. Dateline Movies A 14-year old certified movie buff comments on movies and anything related to it.

5. Knowing Ropes – This blogger connects with her students by indirectly answering their questions through her posts.

6. Nutri Facts in the Packs  – It promotes nutrition consciousness by describing nutrition facts and figures of what we eat and drink.

7. Quite Simple Bits – This blog is dedicated to the pursuit of simple and sustainable living by making gradual changes in the blogger’s family’s choices and habits.

8. JLofied – It contains tips and practical advice related to the events and marketing industry.

9. Rackethub   – It contains tips learned by the blogger from attending webinars and seminars for entrepreneurs.

10. Dizkarteng Noypi – “Ang Tambayan ng Madiskarteng Pinoy! – Written in Taglish (Tagalog and English), this blog aims to promote financial literacy and help Filipinos achieve financial independence.


The Top 10 Emerging Influential Blog 2014 Writing Project is spearheaded by one of the country’s top Internet marketing specialist and blogger, Janette Toral – founder of Digital Filipino Club.

This writing project is also sponsored by:

Written by artseblis

August 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

the lost language by marianne villanueva

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It’s like I was reading a diary. But it wasn’t truly voyeurism, because sometimes it felt like reading something from my own diary. I didn’t understand many of the mythological references, though. Isn’t our psyche already unfathomable that to mask it with riddles an overkill?

What I feared happened. I met an author and now I must set aside all thoughts of personal consideration so I can be as honest as possible about my review of The Lost Language, an anthology of short stories that read like they were penned in pain.

At the Filipino Book Bloggers meetup last year, Marianne Villanueva was bubbly and witty, so interested in our every word. She shared some of her experiences with us, talked about being a Filipino writer in the United States, gave tips on improving one’s literary craft, and made us feel how wonderful it is be reading and writing at this time.

Her smile was a grin and her laugh at our own odd stories infectious. Imagine my surprise to find out how different the Marianne Villanueva was in her writings, at least those that I saw from this book. They described a world where relationships take more than they give: Why else are her characters dispirited or despairing much of the time?

In the first story, two kids find a hand in a dumpster and feed it to a dog; the girl goes along because she wanted her friend to respect her. A Filipina girl new in the land of milk and honey, I guess she wanted to fit in. It was such a tight fix, though, that she broke, and wetness flowed from her eyes and peed out between her legs.

The other stories carry much the same burden; mother, son, daughter, wife–are these roles worth taking on I asked with each heartache. The mother of the Unruly Heart allowed sorrow over her son’s death to swallow her up that sorrow became normal.

I would have felt disgusted by all the angst if it was not so deftly understated and the language that sheltered it not so refined.

I must admit it was stressful reading this book.  There were moments that I almost remembered the lost language within me; thankfully I was able to shut the covers on it just in time to write this incoherent review.

Read a coherent review here and here.

Written by artseblis

February 1, 2011 at 1:48 am

maligayang pagdating sa sitio catacutan by tony perez

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“Hanggat hindi nawawala ang pang-aapi sa mundo, hindi rin mawawala ang mga multo.” Six ghost stories set in Cubao, Metro Manila’s go-to place for the weird and uncommon. My kind of place. Not completely my kind of book.

I’m really curious about Cubao. Having only been around the Araneta Colliseum I know I have only scratched the surface of this part of Quezon City. In the years I have been visiting Cubao I never really had time to look around: I commute, alight, and head straight to the giant National Bookstore, spending hours there, or taking up an entire afternoon and night transferring from one second-hand bookstore to another. I never left the commercial district. More recently I frequent Libreria at Cubao X, haven of extremely literates and artistic, the bohemian culture at its sprightliest within the U-shaped compound of what used to be Marikina Shoe Expo.

View latest bookish activity at Libreria here.

There is slightly decaying vibe to Cubao X; it will never be sparkling like Ayala and thank goodness for that. I love places with personality. Last year, when Anvil offered to give out copies of Tony Perez’s ghost stories set in Cubao I was the first (and only, I believe) of my book club to request them. I wanted to see a side of Cubao from the point of view of a paranormal investigator. Cubao, kung saan—at ito ay madali niyang natuklasan at natutunan—ng mga taga-ibang-planeta, ng mga engkanto, ng mga malign, at ng mga multo.

I know that the first and second books of the Catacutan Saga are fiction but I know enough of the author’s exploits to look forward to seeing many of his insights and experiences coloring the stories, which begin with two brothers arriving from the province to live in a room-for-rent in Cubao. They were greeted with a warning not to just hail any tricycle plying the street.

Now If only I could get past the first chapter….

Facebook posts:
Artseblis REALLY, REALLY SUFFERING reading through a diatribe on the ills of society masquerading as ghost stories. Will Anvil curse me if I post that and more?

5 hours ago •   • Like • Comment Dani M. and Mike B. like this.

Artseblis I would love to enjoy the magic realism; I like it when the weird is exposed in the mundane. With this book, one has to first bridge a language barrier. How to connect people to events to places to situations when I must spend an hour just trying to puzzle out how a certain singularly abstruse metaphor got to do with the plot.

4 hours ago • Like

Artseblis My reading is fragmented, an effort, not exciting. An exercise in suffering!4 hours ago • Like

Mike B. What book?

4 hours ago • Like

Artseblis Malagim ang Gabi sa Sitio Catacutan by Tony Perez. Malagim! huhu

3 hours ago • Like

Artseblis ah, wait, i changed my mind. this quote is priceless: Hanggat hindi nawawala ang pang-aapi sa mundo, hindi rin mawawala ng mga multo.

3 hours ago • Like •   1 person

Lora Lynn dL Transliteration: Unless abuse ends, the ghosts too will never disappear in this world.
Tony Perez always speaks in riddles…. and enjoys doing it to perplex mere mortals like us. T_T

3 hours ago • Like

Dani M. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Mich, that’s called extrapolation.3 hours ago • Like

The first chapter was unbelievably difficult to read. Not only was the language, the writing, problematic for me, I cannot see the point of all the editorializing. It did not succeed to set mood, character, and setting, but only gave me a headache.

Here are samples of text my eyes would just glaze over, my brain inadequate to the task of making sense of them quickly enough:

… sa kantinang Palamigan, na sumasakop sa harapang-hati ng unang palapag ng mga apartment A at B, at Cafe y Pandan… na ang sakop ay haraping-hati ng unang palapag ng Apartment C.

Dinatnan niya ang isang sirkulo at lipunan na maraming awit sa sariling wika, at ang mayaman at mahirap ay naglinang ng hilig sa mga alahas ng pilak, at ang kalalakihan ay nagpabutas ng kanilang taynga nang makasuot sila ng sari-saring hikaw.

Noong panahong iyon, ang malaking medya-klase na umangat noong huling dekada ay nagparang ginantsilyong mantel na mabilis na natastas at nagging mahabang sinulid na nagkabuhol-buhol.

When I finally reached dialogue I almost cried in relief. The dialog was easier to read, at least. Being a story-oriented person I become terribly impatient if the language gets in the way of the story. Like Lora Lynn said, the author speaks in riddles, and yes, it perplexed me because he did it too soon too much at the beginning of the book and if I was not duty-bound to read and review I would have not bothered with the book further.

I could recommend that other readers skip the first story; unfortunately, the stories are crafted in such a way that elements and characters weave in and out of each other that to miss the first chapter is to get a little lost in the following stories. The first story establishes that there is more to Cubao than just any other urban center. It is Sitio Catacutan. Familiarity is not a guaranty of safety.

To round up the stories in this collection, here are summaries of each:

Traysikel – the ghost of a tricycle driver kills his passenger for revenge.

Rooms for Rent –an old man and adopted son were separated in life; now their memories haunt the rooms

Sa Gantigos Antiques – antiques inhabited by spirits; very eerie in the parts where the objects were wailing their distress

Sinapian – a possessed woman is featured on TV; also a satire on the popularity of  spirit questors in media

Pagsapi – was the woman really possessed? A glimpse into her mind.

Akwaryum – aquarium-maker with dad-issues disappears and possibly will cause the destruction of Cubao one day

The author’s repeated references to pop culture and real places in and around Cubao, to characters who could very well be based on real people working and living there—the bookstore personnel, the TV producer, the tricycle driver—present a startling juxtaposition to the strangeness. The idea that we barely touch the surface of the world we think we know is not new but it always is intriguing. After the incredibly difficult first chapter the book did become more interesting. Keep your wits about to spot the riddles and figure them out yourself.  In all, not a great read nor a good one but not a bad one (after the first chapter).

rare books and maps at the lumina pandit exhibit

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Only a Saturday with the Flips Flipping Pages can be this illuminating. A week ago, eight Flippers paid the Lumina Pandit Exhibit at the University of Santo Tomas a visit. Organized by Professor GnP, it was a very memorable activity.

Here is my recap:

The exhibition commemorates the survival of a 400-year-old institution, the UST Library. Showcased are the original academic records of Jose Rizal, documents with baybayin script, 100-year-old newspapers, and rare tomes. My favorite is a book of maps. Maps tell much about how people saw the world; back then, the Philippines was a land of legends.

The oldest book is an incunabula by a Jewish historian and translated into Spanish. Josefo Flavio’s La Guerra Judaica was printed in 1492 and recounted the Jewish wars with the Romans. Other books in the collection include a 16th-century, first edition tome penned by Nicholas Copernicus and 400-year-old Plantin Polyglot Bible.

The Bible is quite famous and possibly the most valuable of UST’s treasures. It is in Hebrew, Syrian, Aramaic, Greek and Latin. I can easily imagine a Dan Brown story taking form in the University Halls. The books when not on exhibit are kept at the archives, where only librarians and scholars may enter.

Easily the highlight of our tour was a demonstration of a xylographic printing. I applied ink on a carved wooden board called a woodcut template. By means of a replica of a primitive printing press I then transferred the design onto paper (actually the guides did; I just loved the sound of my first thought better.) My souvenir imprint was coveted by the others. I’ll give it to Kwesi because he’s the youngest and sweetest Flipper.

Lumina Pandit is Latin for “to spread the light.” The university seeks to illustrate through the exhibit how across four centuries it has spread the light of civilization to the Orient. Divided into six sections signifying eras of enlightenment in the Orient, the exhibit hall is surprisingly compact but holds a wealth of relics. I suggest that other Flippers take a guided tour (No entrance fee. Donations are welcome) and return to the beginning of the exhibit for a lingering appreciation of our cultural treasures.

More guards should have tailed us. Didn’t they know we were a book club? And they let us loose among rare books!

Exhibit is open until January 30, 2011 at the ground floor of the Miguel de Benavides Library. Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 8am-5pm. Call (632) 731 3034 or email for details.

Not satisfied with the oldest library, we segued into the oldest museum before lunch at a Thai restaurant near UST. At the Museum of Science and the Arts we got an eyeful of stuffed animals, animal fossils, religious artifacts, coins, medals, and school memorabilia. Mike proudly pointed out at a goblet used by senior wizards to vote for wizardry apprentices into becoming full-fledged wizards… Wait, I segued into something else entirely.

Next: Recap of the Discussion of the End of the Affair by Graham Greene

Thanks to Gege and Rhett for the photos.

Stories by other Lumina Pandit explorers: BlooeyFredda


grave witch – an alex craft novel by kalayna price

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Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn’t mean she likes what they say.

Grave Witch by Kalayna PriceLike in several other urban fantasy fictions I have read, Grave Witch uses the literary device of a society transformed by the coming-out of paranormals or, in this case, the fae. Magic was awakened in the world, allowing some humans to better understand and practice it. There are the usual spell casters who can create charms ranging from homing origami messages to complexion charms. One of the rarest forms of ability was communicating with the dead, called grave witchcraft.

Alex, a talented grave witch, is hoping to get a break by helping the police solve cases and DA get convictions through the shades she calls up. A favor for a sister gets her into more than she can chew. She gets attacked by a shade and then shot at. Death saves her, pushing Alex out of the way. That she has been seeing and talking with a soul collector  since childhood is another of Alex’s idiosyncrasies. A detective who is more than he seems starts tailing her, suspecting she knows more than she lets on. Which is true.

After Queen of Shadows, Grave Witch is a treat. I love the love triangle formed between Alex, Death, and detective. The relationship between Alex and Death reminds me of Tanya Huff’s The Last Wizard, where Crystal and Death form a rare friendship; they can never touch and he can never claim her, as wizards’ souls are off-limits to him. The detective may seem at a disadvantage, in terms of mystique. I thought so, but not for long (read to find out why). I don’t know who I’m rooting for actually.

There are shades of the Greywalker series here, too, in how both heroines can interact with different levels of reality, from the physical to the ghost world. Very Twilight Zone. That sort of stuff always appeals to me.

I can do with fewer interrupted dialogue, though; it’s a literary device that’s more irritating than intriguing. There must have been over a dozen examples where the character go, “I’ve got to, uh…” Argh.

Stormbreaker the Graphic Novel by Anthony Horowitz, Antony Johnston, Kanako Damerum & Yuzuru Takasaki

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Stormbreaker the Graphic Novel by Anthony HorowitzApparently, Alex Rider is popular. I found out when I googled him. He’s what James Bond would be like as a teenager. His movie was a blockbuster and his books were bestsellers. Now he has a graphic novel based on the first book.


My glaring ignorance is not due to me having lived in an island all my life. I simply am not in the right demographics. I may have seen movie trailers but I don’t remember if I did. My movie and reading tastes do not run to spy thrillers starring 14-year olds. If the 14-year old has paranormal powers or has become involved in a supernatural situation then I would probably find out about him even if there is no blockbuster movie or bestselling books.

(Readers of the same opinion should try Dan Simmon’s Summer of Night. It gave me sleepless nights.)

I picked up this graphic novel at the Powerbooks’ Powerbarter last October 27, thinking it would make a kid happy if I donate it to a children’s library. I’m writing about it now because I read it, wanting a few idle minutes looking at pictures. I also thought I’d add by one my quantity challenge for the year.

I liked the artwork, which looked like it was a fusion of manga and Western art.  Alex Rider has an innocent face normally and mischievous smile as he outwits or saves someone. He’s got all these martial skills from all the adventure trips with his uncle–who was a spy. When the uncle was killed by another spy, Alex was recruited–blackmailed, rather–to take his place.

Funny that there is no way I will take the idea of a kid acting for the government amongst cut-throat killers seriously when I have to remind myself, “fantasy, fantasy only,” when reading my SF or paranormal mysteries. I suppose it’s because I am an eldest in a brood of eight and there was no way in hell would I have allowed my siblings when they were that age to even go biking outside the neighborhood. No head of a spy agency can make my kid brother go head-to-head with bad guys and get away with it!

Already, I am rewriting Stormbreaker in my mind, with  Jack, Alex’s nanny as the heroine protecting her ward from danger and Gregorovich,  a Russian spy, as her bad but very hot adversary. I will also remake scenes of killing so that Alex will offer a more realistic reaction than just “Ew.”

Libreria is The Filipino Book Bloggers’ headquarters!

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My book haul from Libreria: The Ring by Jorge Molist P100; The Bitterbynde Books 2 & 3 by Cecilia Dart-Thornton - The Lady of the Sorrows P320 & The Battle of Evernight P320; and The Buried Circle by Jenni Mills P380. Kenneth gave copies of the Philippine Genre Stories’s 2009 Christmas issue. Thanks Kenneth! I can’t wait to hang out at Libreria again!

The Filipino Book Bloggers met again last Saturday for books, nice company and conversation, and lovely coffee! Libreria at Cubao Expo was the best venue for book geeks. The place had charm and coffee galore! The book selection was fabulous, and Triccie the owner was the most gracious ever. Even if you’re not really into books, drop by and relax on the couch with a cup of coffee for a relaxing late afternoon or evening. Just destress, you know.

Libreria is located at Cubao Expo, a collection of shops on Gen. Romulo St, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City. Look for it behind the Old Rustan’s building (beside Ali Mall), which is behind Shopwise in front of the entrance of the Araneta Coliseum. The entrance gate leading to Cubao Expo is closed to traffic starting 10pm. Refer to map for directions.

I quite enjoyed myself , and was very sorry I was late and missed much of the conversation. I’ll just share a short recap of the topics covered by the group. I have shamelessly referred to the recap of the other bloggers just so I can post something.

  • How blogging affects real life, and vice versa
  • Blogs we liked; blogging idol
  • Addiction to monitoring blog statistics
  • Negative reviews
  • Personal review policies
  • Plagiarism
  • Dilemma of reviewing books written by people we know

Apparently, there was an outcry in Twiter by authors who get tagged in

A treasure Chest. There were not that many elements in Libreria yet all combined to create a cozy ambiance. The place was not cluttered. Triccie, the owner, knew how many books are enough to place in the shelves, replenishing the shelves in a controlled pace that would get customers to come back again and again. I for one shall return.

negative reviews. ‘It is hurtful and there is no need to tag them’ was the sentiment. Most of the other bloggers agreed with this, saying the authors can always do a google search of negative reviews if they feel like it. The authors have a point, I know. But is it not a given that not all readers will like their books? When I write about a book, I basically just say whether I liked it or not. I don’t want to be accused of bad manners by an author for writing honestly in my blog.

Tina of One More Page recently had a brush with this issue, she told me later.

I like the solution of Tarie of Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind. She uses different ways to feature books: through reviews, memes, or author interviews. That way if she doesn’t like a book but does not want to post a negative review she can still choose to present the book in a positive light.

Another hot issue was plagiarism. Our own supreme court was guilty of this, whether intentionally or not is yet to be confirmed — click links here and here for the story. Kenneth said he felt strongly about plagiarism, and shared with the group another recent example where a cooking magazine editor used without permission an article written by a food writer. When asked for compensation by the writer, the editor allegedly said that the web is public domain and the writer should thank the magazine for editing her work!

Kenneth will host the next Filipino Friday discussion, which will be about plagiarism.

I’d like to commend Chachic for being such a fantastic moderator. She kept the conversation going and effortlessly stepped in with observations and questions when there was danger of dead air. To the other bloggers – Will, Aaron, Jason, Peter, and Rhett - great to see you! Honey, we should continue reading that Choose-your-own-romance-adventure. Blooey, terrific ghost story you shared–made me want to do another gothic tour.

Photos from Chachic’s Book Nook

Written by artseblis

November 16, 2010 at 1:58 pm


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